Metal kitchen spoons work just fine too.
Love that video! That’s how spoons are supposed to sound—metallic, not plastic, and with a silvery ring.
My grandfather was brilliant on spoons, right from the kitchen drawer. He was also a genius on the bones—not commercial “musical bones,” but real beef rib bones he’d save from when he made his famous beef-n-noodles.
He’d choose the biggest and heaviest bones from the pot (no dinky bones, @Bill Sheehan
!), which by then were clean & hollow (marrow boiled out). After a week or so of drying, those would become his new set of bones. With playing, they would get shiny and golden brown, like very old ivory. When they cracked & lost their tone, he’d make more beef & noodles and get himself a new set.
He was so good that he became somewhat famous in certain circles of Des Moines, Iowa, where I was born & grew up. My uncle had a C&W band that was the house band at a local saloon. When a particular kind of song came into the rotation, the call would go out: “We need Ted! Is Ted in the house?” If he was present, he‘d go up on stage with his bones (which lived in his pocket) and jam, often taking solos that brought down the house. Unfortunately I know this only at second hand, kids not being allowed in taverns!
I’ve never seen anyone play the bones like Grampa. When he died, one of my aunts kept his last set of bones. But they got lost in a move. I always regret that I never asked him to how me how to play them. I never saw him play with the band, but he often just took them out of his pocket and played, at home or wherever he was. He didn’t need an accompaniment. He made music with the bones alone.
I also regret that I never asked him to show me how to make those noodles. He never shared the secret—they were chewy and lumpy and just divine in a thick gravy with big chunks of chicken or beef. I did watch a couple of times. He threw a few handfuls of flour right onto the countertop, cracked in a couple of eggs, mixed it with his fingertips (was there any other liquid? Can’t remember).
Then he patted the dough out, cut it into rough strips with a butter knife, and put the strips to dry on a clean dish towel. After they were dry, they were ready for the pot. The kitchen counter was of course a mess. But those noodles!